Dyer warning leads next UBC Okanagan Distinguished Speaker Series

"The world is in deep trouble," warns Gwynne Dyer, citing a growing potential for widespread famine and armed conflict driven by climate change. A noted historian, journalist and international affairs expert, Dyer will visit Kelowna on September 12 for a free public lecture opening this year's UBC Okanagan Distinguished Speaker Series.

His presentation, After Iraq, will examine the interplay of critical global issues that include population growth, a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the world's reliance on non-renewable energy resources, climate change, and the large-scale human conflict that may arise as a result of resource shortages.

"It's hard to see how it ends happily," he says, "but human beings usually do the right thing once they have exhausted all the alternatives." The real issue, he suggests, is whether we will do the right thing in time.

"We are just barely able to feed the current six and a half billion people on the planet, thanks to the Green Revolution and a shift to very energy-intensive agriculture," says Dyer. "But there is no second Green Revolution coming, and there are still lots more people coming. Start subtracting significant amounts of food production, and significant numbers of people are in trouble."

He warns that this could create conflict, including armed conflict, "because nobody will sit quietly and watch their children starve when any alternatives remain, including violent ones. Some of those watching their children starve will have the resources and technology to threaten those who still have food, but just enough food," he says.

"The only way to avoid this future, if it can be avoided, is to get greenhouse gas emissions down drastically in the next 10 to 15 years."

Sponsored by UBC Okanagan's Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences Endowment Fund, Dyer's presentation is at 7 p.m., September 12, in the Kelowna Community Theatre. Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance by registering at www.ubc.ca/okanagan/speakers.

This Fall's UBC Okanagan Distinguished Speaker Series will also feature:

Moura Quayle, B.C.'s Deputy Minister of Advanced Education, on Oct. 1 (4 p.m., UBC Okanagan Arts Building ART 366). Quayle, who led the academic planning team as the UBC Okanagan campus was being created, will discuss the transformation required to create the B.C. Campus of Learning envisioned in the Campus 2020 report. She will also comment on the challenges and opportunities in building B.C.’s post-secondary education system as a key element in a civil and sustainable society.

Paul Kennedy, host and producer of the popular CBC Radio program Ideas, on Oct. 15 (7 p.m., Rotary Centre for the Arts). Kennedy, who has hosted Ideas since 1999, has produced and presented close to 200 documentaries for Ideas over the past 26 years, covering a diverse array of topics he playfully describes as "all over the intellectual map." Kennedy will talk about how ideas are essential for the preservation of civilization -- and even life -- as we know it.

John Acorn, TV's The Nature Nut, author, and instructor of wildlife biodiversity and ecology at the University of Alberta, on Nov. 27 (7 p.m., Rotary Centre for the Arts). In his evening lecture -- entitledDinos and Binos: Are Bird-Watchers Really Dinosaur Watchers? -- Acorn looks at the recent discovery of feathered dinosaurs, and other connections between the first birds and early two-legged meat-eating theropods.

Tickets for these free public lectures can be ordered by visiting the UBC Okanagan website --www.ubc.ca/okanagan/speakers. Advance registration online is required, and because seating is limited organizers recommend early registration.

Several more speakers will be presented in the second half of the Distinguished Speaker Series, in early 2008.

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